The Mandalorian: Chapter 4 Review
Bounty hunting is a complicated profession. Don’t you agree? Complicated is definitely how I would describe the life of The Mandalorian after being sent on his most recent job. Now on the run, I don’t blame him for looking for the simple life away from prying eyes so he and his boy can fly under the radar of anyone trying to cash in on the bounty on them.
Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian (including this episode) and may contain spoilers for other Star Wars canon and legends TV series, movies and novels.
Let’s get a few things out of the way up front. First, this was a filler episode. The overall story of the season really didn’t progress compared to the previous three episodes. It’s a character piece for Mando as well as a little bit of fun for Baby Yoda. Secondly, this episode was an homage to Seven Samurai and its old west retelling The Magnificent Seven. Since Lucas was inspired by Kurosawa films and executive producer Filoni has already done a Seven Samurai homage in The Clone Wars, we shouldn’t be surprised that we got a Seven Samurai episode in The Mandalorian. There was also the Western trope of a helpful gunslinger and the cute widow (which I believe is also from The Magnificent Seven).
Do I mind the use of tropes or the show leaning into them? No. As long as we’re entertained and engaged by the show, I don’t see a reason to complain about how the team behind The Mandalorian gets there. Tropes can be fun to as long as they’re used right. In this episode, they were used in service to help advance Mando as a character.
Do I mind the reuse of tropes? Different question and different answer. This episode featured the second bait-and-switch of someone targeting Baby Yoda and a shot going off only for the one targeting Baby Yoda to go down. In Chapter One, we saw the flash of a blaster but IG-11 went down rather than Baby Yoda. This time out, it was a Kubaz who lined up a shot on Baby Yoda only for Cara Dune to save the day. It don’t mind using tropes but I wasn’t a fan of reusing this one. I was expecting Baby Yoda to pull a Kylo Ren and stop the blaster bolt in mid-air.
Do I mind that this was more of a filler episode? Again, no. Mando talked a lot more and we learned a lot more about him and the Mandalorians as a result. Considering that the previous episodes have all been go-go-go, we needed that more quiet episode. Every piece of media needs those highs and lows as we go along the journey. This was a slower and quieter episode in the grand scheme of the four episodes presented so far.
This was also the directorial debut of Bryce Dallas Howard. So while she may not have been the most visually impressive director so far, she is an actor’s director. She pulls great performances out of everyone which is the advantage of having an actor in the director’s chair. I’ve said in other reviews that an actor who understands the craft knows how to get good performances out of other actors and we see that from Howard here. That’s definitely to the episode’s benefit as it’s the characters that carry this episode and Howard gets everything she can out of this episode’s key players.
Visually, this wasn’t a spectacular episode but it has its moments. You can see Howard’s inspiration from various other media. There’s an opening raid shot that feels very Lord of the Rings. I’ve mentioned Seven Samurai a few times and you see those scenes here. There’s a scene with an AT-ST that looks right out of Jurassic Park which is appropriate given the director. And we even get some Predator moments thrown in for good measure. It’s good use of the inspiration but other than the AT-ST shot, there’s nothing that I felt stood out from the episode’s big action moments.
One big downside was the passage of time or lack thereof in this episode. The pace of the episode made the passage of time impossible to read in this episode. For example, the final scene was supposed to have taken place weeks after the climactic fight but it didn’t feel that way from how the episode was cut together. That would be the disadvantage of a rookie director. Everyone is sad that Mando and Baby Yoda are leaving because they were there for weeks rather than hours. It’s a big difference that means a lot when interpreting the scene.
Fortunately, we get a lot of Baby Yoda and memorable scenes as a result. You’ve probably already seen the new sipping tea meme that spawned from this episode. And the hugging Baby Yoda or kids fawning over Baby Yoda was instantly a hit online. At this point, I don’t know why they don’t actually change the name of the show to The Dadalorian. Mando is cool and all but he’s not even the star of his own show.
We also get to meet Cara Dune. Gina Carano as the former Rebel shocktrooper was one of the featured characters that we saw in the the build-up to the series. We should have expected her to be in this episode because Gina mentioned that she and Howard consulted on Cara’s costume design. I liked that we got a little bit of a backstory to her character in about 30 seconds so we knew what she brought to the table before the action started.
Overall, this was probably the weakest of the four episodes but it was by no means a bad episode. Not every episode can be a home run. I suppose that this episode’s mileage will vary based on what you prioritize. Do you like Mando and Baby Yoda? Then this might be more your speed. Are you looking for a visual spectacle? Not your episode.
Other random points of note:
- The advantage of having an actual fighter in the show is that she looks and acts like she could kick Mando’s ass. Gina throwing those knees looked killer because she’s messed people up with those in the cage.
- That AT-ST was properly intimidating. Our other canon experience with one was when a whole host of them were tripped and smashed by log-wielding teddy bears. It’s not a criticism of Episode VI but rather an observation of how differently they were presented.
- How on the nose is it that the village kids were instantly in love with Baby Yoda? Favreau knew he had a winner.
- This is the way.
Next time out, it’s another new adventure for the Dadalorian and Baby Yoda. They can’t stay at the village and have to stay on the move if the Bounty Hunters’ Guild is still tracking them. It makes you wonder where they’re next stop will be and if there is anywhere safe for them in the galaxy.
I have spoken.
Posted on December 3, 2019, in TV/Movie Reviews and tagged Bryce Dallas Howard, Disney, Disney Plus, Jon Favreau, LucasFilm, Review, Star Wars, The Mandalorian. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.